For this month’s special report on women in the workforce, Executive chose to profile a selection of seven successful, upper managerial level, Lebanese working women. Read more profiles as they’re published here, or pick up March’s issue at newsstands in Lebanon.
“I’m very comfortable with numbers and I love to work with them,” says Hayat Nader, head of compliance at Credit Libanais Group since 2013.
She was one of only three girls among 60 students in the Baccalaureate with a specialization in mathematics at the International School of Choueifat. Later on, at the Lebanese University, where she majored in finance and accounting, she was once again one of only five girls in the entire faculty. “Now, if you go to the school of business [at the Lebanese University], it is mostly girls that major in business, but I’m talking about back then,” says Nader.
“The private sector … saw woman as secretaries at that time”
When her soon-to-be-husband’s job as branch manager at the Orient Credit Bank took him to Tripoli, Nader says she moved there with him and started her career as accountancy controller at the Ministry of Finance in 1974. “It was better for me as a woman to work in the public sector. In the public sector you are assessed and assigned to a post based on an exam, but in the private sector they didn’t give you a good post — they saw woman as secretaries at that time,” says Nader. She then started working in the ministry in tax auditing and was promoted to head of the audit division in Tripoli.
In 1987, Nader and her husband moved back to Beirut where she was made head of the auditing of banks for the ministry. “When I used to go with my team to audit a bank, they used to look first at the men but they would soon realize that I was the head,” recounts Nader, adding that her dedication to her career is what makes others respect her.
In 2002, Nader was promoted to head of the department of inheritance tax in Lebanon and in 2010, when the government commissioner left, she seized the opportunity and asked to be promoted to that top level position.
When she reached the mandatory retirement age for public sector officials, in 2012, then Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi asked her to stay on as his advisor, which she accepted, remaining in that post for a year. Having worked on many projects with the Ministry of Finance, Nader found it easy to move on to her current post with Credit Libanais Group, where she is in the process of building a new career at age of 66.
While working at the same time, Nader bore and raised a son. She believes that an ambitious and hard working woman can balance her personal life with a fulfilling career that certainly does not have to stop at the official age of retirement.